Look around you. It’s likely that some manifestation of Helvetica won’t be too far away. Since its launch in 1957, it’s become the go-to type for company logos and transport hubs, making it one of the most widespread designs of all time.
But like every icon, Helvetica divides opinions, and many designers consider it unoriginal, uninspired and unattractive.
So why has it ruled the world for more than 60 years?
The right name
“The original name sucked,” said Shaw. The name Helvetica, which means “Swiss” in Latin as a homage to its country of origin, was adopted in 1960 to make it easier to sell it abroad.
And so it did: “Helvetica gets its first kick because the Germans come up with a great name and make it available in the two mechanisms of the day, machines and foundry type, so that anybody could buy it.”
“Standard as a name was brilliant, but it also caused problems, because people started saying ‘We’ll just use the standard typeface’ and those who were not designers took that literally to mean whatever we’ve been using for everything else. That’s how Helvetica accidentally slipped through the cracks,” said Shaw.
The right look
Helvetica’s creators, graphic designer Max Miedinger and his boss, Eduard Hoffmann, wanted a neutral and versatile design. It had to be a modern-looking “sans-serif” type, without the extending features at the end of strokes that were common in the print world.
The right brand
Helvetica wasn’t an immediate hit in Europe, although it was available there first.
But it didn’t take long before it became the standard for advertising and corporate branding in the US: “In 1967 it creeps into the design for the Yankee Stadium,” said Shaw, “And by 1968 it’s everywhere in America — it is the typeface.”
Vignelli chooses it for the American Airlines logo, which will remain untouched until 2013 — one of the most enduring corporate identities of the 20th Century. It ends up — sometimes with minor variations — in countless company logos including those of BMW, Crate&Barrel, Fendi, Jeep, Kawasaki, Knoll, Lufthansa, Mattel, Nestlé, Panasonic, Scotch, Skype, Target, Texaco, Tupperware, and Verizon. NASA paints it on the side of the Space Shuttle. The US government redesigned its tax forms with it.
The classic American Airlines logo design by Massimo Vignelli. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
In 1984, Steve Jobs puts it in the Macintosh: “This was a key move. If Apple didn’t use it, Helvetica would have remained a designer’s preference, same as Times New Roman. Instead, it becomes the default sans serif when sans serif fonts are becoming popular among the populous and not just avant-garde designers,” said Shaw.
The world is conquered: “It’s air, you know. It’s just there. There’s no choice. You have to breathe, so you have to use Helvetica,” says influential German typographer Erik Spiekermann in the documentary “Helvetica.”
1/6 – Patrick Thomas
The right species
The popularity of Helvetica continues today. It was the system font on the original iPhone, and it remained part of iOS until 2015, when Apple replaced it with its own San Francisco.
In Venice, Arial is replacing Helvetica in some Vaporetto signage, such as the word ‘Rialto’ here. Credit: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
However, it’s not easy to get a kind word on Helvetica from designers: The fact that people didn’t feel passionate about it in retrospect is interesting,” said Shaw, “It’s not a terrible typeface, it’s just heavily overrated.”
According to Shaw, there was not a lot design-wise that made it better than either Standard or Univers, its great rival that was released in the same year.
“I am not a big fan of Helvetica, but I admire its ability to spread and take root worldwide,” said Lupton.
“It is an invasive and drug-resistant species that may never be eradicated. Even designers who don’t often use Helvetica in their own work take pride in the fact that it is such a persistent cultural icon.”
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
The drugs — which are used to treat malaria and other conditions — have been called game changers by President Donald Trump.
But thus far, there is little scientific evidence that chloroquine, or its closely-related analogue hydroxychloroquine, are effective in treating Covid-19.
What happened? The authorization came in a letter dated Saturday, but the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acknowledged the FDA’s action in a Sunday news release. The FDA limited the scope of its authorization to drugs supplied from the Strategic National Stockpile. The HHS announced that two pharmaceutical companies — Bayer and a division of Novartis — had donated the drugs to the stockpile.
Do the drugs work? In its statement, HHS said:
“Anecdotal reports suggest that these drugs may offer some benefit in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“The safety profile of these drugs has only been studied for FDA approved indications, not COVID-19.”
While there’s limited evidence on the efficacy of chloroquine, or hydroxychloroquine, the FDA said the drugs’ benefits outweighed their risk. In its letter, the FDA encouraged randomized clinical trials that could assess the effectiveness of the drugs. It also noted that the known and potential benefits outweigh the risks.
Who can the drugs be used to treat? The authorization is limited to patients who are currently hospitalized and weigh at least 50kg, or about 110 pounds. Under the emergency use authorization, health care providers must contact their local or state health department to access the drugs.
Moscow imposed a citywide quarantine starting March 30 until further notice for all residents regardless of their age, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said in a statement.
“(Since restrictions were imposed) movements in the city decreased by two-thirds, which this is very good,” Sobyanin said. “Although it is obvious that not everyone heard us.”
Residents will only be able to leave their houses to get urgent medical help, go to a nearby grocery store or pharmacy, and to walk their pets in the proximity of 100 meters (328 feet) from their residence. The exception will be made for essential workers.
City officials will deploy a “smart monitoring” system to enforce these restrictions, Sobyanin said, and the city will develop a special pass system for people to get permission to leave their homes.
Public and private transportation, as well as leaving or entering the city, is still allowed, according to the statement.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond presses President Donald Trump after he denied instructing Vice President Mike Pence to not call governors he felt were being unappreciative of federal assistance during the coronavirus crisis, despite video evidence to the contrary.